Instapaper's "Read Later" bookmarklet serves a novel purpose in the Internet age: it gives us the opportunity to be better readers. The web offers limitless distractions, but Instapaper lets us queue up long and partially read articles for the right moment. As it's grown more popular, Instapaper's taken on a second, even more valuable service: content curation through Give Me Something to Read, an "editor's choice" selection of articles from across the web. But how do we get all of that content onto a platform where it's actually pleasant to read? An LCD's hard on the eyes for continuous long-form reading. Solution: Instapaper's wireless Kindle delivery support.
Instapaper and its competitor Readability can send a compilation of articles to Amazon's Kindle, formatting them for the e-reader and including a digest-style table of contents of the day's articles. Since they primarily differ in presentation, we've set up both for comparison and compiled five-minute walkthroughs for getting the two services running. Instapaper and Readability are incredibly simple to set up--just choose the one that looks right for you.
Readability and Instapaper use Amazon's document delivery service to send web text to the Kindle. This works wirelessly with the basic Wi-Fi Kindles and over 3G as well (which can cost money, but there's an easy way to avoid accidental charges). Since they're functionally identical, the setup process is almost exactly the same, too--Instapaper just offers a couple extra options.
The Read It Later Process
The free Readability offers something Instapaper does not: a "Send to Kindle" bookmarklet that immediately sends a single article directly to the Kindle.
The free Readability offers something Instapaper does not: a "Send to Kindle" bookmarklet that immediately sends a single article directly to the Kindle. Similarly, every story in Readability's Reading List has a "Send to my Kindle" option. There's also a Readability browser extension that offers the same buttons, if you'd prefer a small drop-down over an entry on the bookmark toolbar.
Instapaper does offer its own individual article "Send to Kindle" bookmarklet, but only for subscribers who pay $1 per month. The subscription also bumps up Instapaper's story collections from 10 to 50. If you're sending articles to the Kindle every day, this isn't an issue unless you add more than 10 stories per day to the reading list. Having up to 50 stories within one compilation is, of course, more convenient than keeping around a back catalog of stories.
Readability's optional subscription costs much more than Instapaper's at $5 per month, but doesn't add anything for Kindle users. Readability has a hard cap of 20 stories in its Kindle digests.
The Kindle Reading Experience
There's one huge difference that could decide which service you plan to use all by itself: image support. Readability has it, Instapaper doesn't. Instapaper's reading digests strip out images but not captions, which can occasionally be confusing. Images show up in articles sent from Readability. Obviously the B&W screen of the Kindle isn't ideal for images embedded in Internet articles. Depending on your personal reading habits, you might not miss images or might even prefer not to have them included.
It's a shame Instapaper doesn't support images, as its Kindle implementation is otherwise a bit better than Readability's. The daily collections include the day and date in their titles, which makes them more distinguishable than the simple title "Readability." Even better, each collection opens with a page that contains hyperlinks to Instapaper's Archive All and Download Newest commands. The latter command is especially useful for pulling down a new collection of articles before the scheduled delivery time without going to the Instapaper website.
- Create an account at Instapaper or Readability.
- Go to the Kindle's Personal Documents Settings page, logging into the account that your Kindle is registered with. Here you'll see the Kindle email address that's attached to your Kindle. It's likely your name @Kindle.com.
- Navigate to the Manage your Kindle page and enter your Kindle email address. Important: if you own a 3G Kindle, select "free.kindle.com" from the email suffix drop-down box. With this email documents will only be sent to your Kindle via Wi-Fi, avoiding the charges for 3G transfers.
- Click the check box next to "Send my Unread articles to my Kindle automatically" to enable automatic transfers. Choose to send articles daily or weekly and set the time of day they'll be sent. The final drop-down box controls how often compilations are sent by requiring a certain number of new articles to be included.
- Add the Instapaper.com email address listed on the Manage your Kindle page to the Approved Personal Document E-mail List on Amazon's Personal Documents Settings page by clicking "Add a new approved e-mail address."
On the Instapaper Account Settings page, you can send an updated collection at any time by pressing "Send now."
- Navigate to the Kindle Settings page and enter your Kindle email address. Important: if you own a 3G Kindle, select "free.kindle.com" from the email suffix drop-down box. With this email documents will only be sent to your Kindle via Wi-Fi, avoiding the charges for 3G transfers.
- Check the "Yes" radio button next to "Receive daily reading list updates to your Kindle." Set a time for the daily delivery of articles.
- Add the firstname.lastname@example.org email address listed on the Kindle Settings page to the Approved Personal Document E-mail List on Amazon's Personal Documents Settings page by clicking "Add a new approved e-mail address."
On the Readability Kindle Settings page, you can send an updated collection at any time by pressing "Send a Digest."
Something to Read?
Set up with your delivery service of choice? Here are a few places to keep an eye on if you're looking for a mountain of great writing: